A most unique city: Venice

If there is one city in this world that I would recommend you visit as soon as possible, it is Venice.

The reason why is as simple as it is tragic: Venice is one of the most unique locations in the world. There is no other city quite like it, not in Italy nor anywhere else. However Venice will not remain the way it is now much longer. It is only a matter of time till something happens, some catalyst of change occurs, and the city as it stands today is forever changed. Whether it be the rising waters tides as the city sinks, bit by bit, or some catastrophe we cannot predict. Maybe something as simple as a wealthy corporation deciding that ‘they’ would be the first to build a skyscraper somehow and other corporation follow suit, who knows? I do not. But no matter how resistant to change the people who live in Venice might be (And they are very, very resistant to change. Just look up the controversy over the cities ‘newest’ bridge!) change will come, and Venice as we know it now will never be the same.

And so I say go, go and visit Venice. Right now!

As I wrote above, Venice truly is unique among cities. You’ve undoubtedly heard of it and seen pictures, perhaps watched James Bond as he ran along the beautiful city streets or seen boats chase each other down its narrow waterways in the Italian Job. It’s in countless movies and innumerable stories. Venice is, well, legendary! And it is a deserved status as the city itself, glamor aside, is stunningly gorgeous and special all itself.

We all know that the city rests above water, that’s one of the cities main claims to fame: That long long ago Romans fleeing the destruction of the empire around them built their city in the farthest reaches of their lands, in the last place anyone would ever think to look for a city. And yet somehow, some way, not only did it manage to work but the city thrived and grew and now stands a marble pinnacle of wealth and power. A marble city resting lightly above the waves. It’s a fairytale come true, it doesn’t sound like it should ever have come to be! However you can go there, walk the streets yourself and see in person that this particular story is no fiction but fact. This isn’t a city where you’ll exclaim “Oh look, there’s a couple houses that stretch over the waterline, just like in the brochures!”. No! The entire city, all of it, is above the water. Venice doesn’t simply live up to the tales, it exceeds them.

The results of this strange past and design are evident everywhere you go in Venice. Because of the cities rather unusual location, where most cities grow, expand, and change over the course of years Venice, well, Venice is pretty much the same as ever. Oh sure there’s McDonald’s there now and shopping centers, tourist shops beyond counting. But those fancy new places? Either inside the renovated buildings of old themselves or standing out starkly as a strange new pimple upon the face of history as its modern design clashes with the antique buildings to either side that seem to themselves glower upon this new aberration and ignore it out of dislike. The city doesn’t just have a neat historical section or a few classical designs, the entire city is one massive glimpse into a time long gone. You glower at me, say ‘You exaggerate!’, and I do slightly for the sake of drama, but allow me to explain further.

There are no cars in Venice. You can enter the city via vehicle as there’s a bridge that extends to the ‘isle’ of Venice (The train also extends to Venice.) and presumably there’s a parking lot somewhere, but other than that? Nothing. Venice is a pedestrians paradise, a city designed for walking and traveling by foot in a way that went out of fashion everywhere else with the advent of vehicles. This helps set a particular mood for the city as you walk along its narrow streets and across the numerous picturesque bridges. It can get crowded at times, which is to be expected, but stray from the usual tourist areas and you’re likely to find yourself alone but for the sound of water gently lapping against the walkways and the antique buildings which surround you.

Ah, the antique buildings. There are many sights to see and famous locals to explore in Venice, but for the most part I found simply wandering randomly through the less crowded sections of the city to be much more enjoyable than the more famous touristy sections. Why? Because again, the entire city is a massive historical monument itself. One in which people still live and enjoy to this day. Even in the quiet little corners away from it all you’ll find unusual sights to see and oddities to explore. The sheer volume of historical church and the like is mind-boggling, ensuring that although Venice is not a very large city all things considered, you’re never at a loss for things to see and enjoy.

To add to the cities interest Venice itself also boasts a slew of its own unique personality traits. You’ve undoubtedly seen pictures of the Venetian masks and parties, the remarkably detailed and extravagant feathers and costumes. You’ll find many shops along the many avenue which cater towards selling these, small booths along main streets selling cheap plastic knockoffs for the tourists and the more dignified locations from which you can buy the ‘real thing’ so to speak. I found simply looking through the windows and wandering the shops which sold these to be its own pleasure as the craftsmanship and imagination which go into these projects is fascinating. Then there’s the architecture! In a city where nearly every building is historic in some way, there’s a love of flourished and embellishments which I haven’t quite seen the like of anywhere else. I can only presume it’s the locals equivalent to the more mundane ‘who’s got the greener lawn’ contest. Also remarkable is that for a city built above water, parks and gardening are amazingly common. Baskets containing herbs and pretty flowers hanging from windows, small but well kept and particularly green parks. It’s not something I’d really expected to see considering Venice’s unusual location.

Venice is beyond any doubt one of the most unique places in the world, one which everyone with a love of travel and history should see. To walk along its historic avenue, peer into the shops selling Venetian masks or to stare in wonder at the facade of a grand church before you. It’s stunning!

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